Golden Globes Players Settle Long-Running Legal War (Exclusive)
UPDATED: The Hollywood Foreign Press Association and Dick Clark Productions have reached a deal to end the nearly 4-year-old litigation over who controls rights to produce the annual awards show.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association and Dick Clark Productions have settled the bitter legal battle over who controls rights to produce the Golden Globe Awards.
As a result of the deal, which was confirmed by the HFPA and DCP on Monday after THR first reported the settlement, the awards show remains on NBC through at least 2018, with DCP as producer.
HFPA president Theo Kingma said the contract with NBC, covering the next four Golden Globe shows, is unchanged. That deal pays an average of $21.5 million for each show.
Kingma said it has been a priority of the HFPA for at least the last two years to reach a settlement, but the talks didn't heat up until about a year ago. About ten months ago Kingma began talks with Todd Boehly, who manages the Guggenheim Partners show business properties. Boehly acted on behalf of DCP.
"This process literally began from the day we bought [DCP] which is 18 months ago," said Allen Shapiro, CEO of DCP. "Todd very much wanted to put this matter behind us and wanted to focus on the future. i think he found a receptive ear in Theo and the two of them, literally did the hard work to reach this settlement."
While the financial terms of the HFPA relationship with DCP were a major issue at trial, neither Kingma or Shaprio would provide any details of the settlement, which has been approved by the entire HFPA membership.
"We are all very, very happy," said Kingma. "We're looking forward to making the Golden Globes even bigger and better than before."
There is a reference to the HFPA and DCP working to "expand the brand witih unique and exciting entertainment experiences" in a press release issued Monday.
"Together we've created the biggest party in the entertainment business," said Shapiro, "and for years we have been fielding inbound calls from the international marketplace saying could we do a Golden Globes in Asia, or could we do a Golden Globes in Russia, or India. There are so many opportunities for us, and for other shows in the U.S. as well. Now that the differences are behind us, we intend to move forward and make this brand as big as we think it can be."
Kingma indicated he thought it premature to discuss any expansion or spin-offs: "We've really not gone into any detail when it comes to the brand."
Kingma did say that the HFPA is still "100 percent owner" of the Golden Globes, and that as part of the settlement, "we are now equal parties when it comes to any negotiation at the table which is what we have sought for a long time."
The current NBC deal was negotiated by a DCP executive without HFPA and was a trigger to the a public feud that began in November 2010. The HFPA filed a lawsuit charging that an executive at DCP secretly negotiated with NBC without their permission.
The HFPA is a group of about 90 international journalists thart has put on the Globes since 1944. When HFPA leadership heard DCP had closed a deal without its input, the group sued claiming DCP was "trying to steal the HFPA's most valuable asset." (Nearly all the HFPA's revenue comes from the Globes TV deal.)
The HFPA also discovered DCP had been making deals for digital rights to the Globes, including a pact with Facebook. The HFPA said that DCP did not even hold those rights and should not have been licensing them.
DCP, which was then owned by private investment fund Red Zone, argued that a series of complicated contracts gave the company the right to produce the show for as long as it remains on NBC and to take a major share of revenue. The HFPA, however, had grown frustrated with DCP's rich deal first negotiated decades ago when the Globes were a struggling awards dinner.
HFPA members wanted a new arrangement and possibly a new producer for the show that would allow the group to control the lion's share of revenue, and it argued that DCP violated its contract by excluding the HFPA from contract renegotiations.
After an April 2012 trial in Los Angeles, U.S. District Court Judge A. Howard Matz ruled in favor of DCP based on the "plain language" of the contracts, which Matz interpreted to mean that as long as the show stays on NBC, DCP can continue as producer. The HFPA appealed and in early June, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments from both sides. The appeals court has not issued any decision.
The Golden Globes, which honor both film and television, have become one of the elite awards shows on the Hollywood circuit. The January telecast hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler was seen by almost 21 million viewers, its biggest audience in a decade. It was the highest rated nonsports show on NBC last season and was second only to the Academy Awards on ABC in the 18-49 demographic.
In September 2012, after the trial court ruling, Red Zone sold DCP to a group that includes Guggenheim Partners (which also owns The Hollywood Reporter).
Through it all, the HFPA and DCP have continued working together to produce the annual show.